A TIME TO LAUGH
There are somber people who seem seldom if ever to laugh. In failing to do so, they do not experience one of the benefits that life affords. While in Jewish tradition, it is said that God will inquire why someone did not take advantage of one aspect of life or another. As with marriage, when given the opportunity but rejecting it.
Some years ago, it was alleged that if the Cubs were to win the world series it would prove that God has a sense of humor. Now that they have done so, I have not heard this advanced as an evidence. Nor need it be, since God is reported to laugh on occasion (cf. Psa. 2:4).
While not all laughter is appropriate. For instance, not for the purpose of ridicule. As otherwise expressed, laugh with people rather than at them.
Now I had three siblings, two sisters and a brother. Marjorie was my oldest sister, and very outgoing. Her laughter was loud and frequent. When she neared death, I talked with her on the telephone. She had heard that I was not feeling well, and was concerned—rather than dwelling on her own situation. Now that she has passed on, I imagine her unbridled laughter showing appreciation for heaven’s blessing.
Some find life more difficult to contend with. This recalls a youth who had been sexually abused by her father. Of course, this had lingering adverse effects, but she eased the situation with an attempt at humor. In particular, she observed that it had been more difficult for her sister, since she was more attractive. Upon further inquiry, it was her subsequent commitment to follow Christ that had turned life around for her. Among other things, it allowed for a time to laugh.
My wife and I lived in Jerusalem for four years, having previously taken study tours to the Holy Land on several occasions. Now Jewish youth tend to be forthright, and sometimes obnoxious. Consequently, the mother of one such youth informed him: "When I want you opinion, I will tell you what it is." Both mother and son thought this to be humorous.
Another Jewish person informed me that Abraham mistook God’s instruction concerning the promised land. In that he thought he said Canaan, whereas he actually indicated Canada. He then laughed, as an incentive for me to join with him.
A number of Jesus’ remarks appear meant to incite laughter, while accomplishing his larger purpose. As an example, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye. You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye" (Matt. 7:3, 5). The imagery of a plank protruding from one’s eye is calculated to elicit amusement.
"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matt. 19:24). In another cultural setting, an elephant replaces the camel in this saying. In any case, the saying in its various forms seems of humerous intent.
My father left church as a youth, never to return. When asked his reason for doing so, he alluded to hypocrites in the church. Of course, the church has no monopoly on hypocrisy. Then, too, there is the response: "Well, there is always room for one more." Which might serve as a transition to dealing with the problem more seriously.
Actually, I suspect that the prime reason for my father to have turned away from the church was the death of his teenage wife. There are other instances that come to mind in this regard. Thus soliciting a balanced response, coupling a time to weep with a time to laugh. This, in turn, serves as a reality check, meant to discourage hypocrisy.
The joyous occasions in my life have been many. For instance, my decision to follow Christ was not well informed, nor was it a highly emotional experience. That is, not until I laid down in my bunk that evening, and felt overwhelmed with the peace of God. While I was well aware that the circumstances associated with my military service would not be altered, I sensed that I would receive God’s guidance and enablement.
And so on. Life has so many rewarding features. So much so, that I am tempted to laugh aloud when thinking of them. And I am convinced that the best is yet to come.